Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has hit out at some political journalists and their coverage of the election campaign, saying it was putting some Australians off politics.

On the eve of a closely fought federal election, the Labor leader described some of the media pack’s behavior and coverage over the past six weeks as “nonsense”.

Mr Albanese created headlines at the start of the campaign when he could not name the unemployment rate.

He apologized for the “memory lapse” and insisted he “owned it” but, afterwards, he was repeatedly quizzed by journalists to list details of his policies.

Some of his team have been increasingly annoyed by the behavior of a few journalists and media outlets.

During a wide-ranging interview with 7.30, Mr Albanese made it clear he was frustrated as well.

“With respect, some of the nonsense that’s gone on from some of the journalists thinking that the campaign was about them and gotcha moments is one of the things that puts people off politics,” he said.

Albanese says he’ll keep promises if he wins election

The Labor leader has been criticized by some of his own supporters and pundits for not putting forward more policy ideas, and running a small-target strategy.

However, when asked whether he should be vowing to do more for some of the poorest Australians, he said he would not over-promise and under-deliver for voters.

“What I will deliver is what I say I will deliver,” Mr Albanese said.

In a final pitch to undecided Australians heading to cast their ballots on Saturday, Mr Albanese also outlined his main priorities if he were to win the nation’s highest political office.

“Cheaper childcare, cheaper energy bills, a future made in Australia, end the climate wars, a national anti-corruption commission and move forward with the constitutional recognition of First Nations people with a voice to parliament,” he said.

Some in Coalition concede they are struggling to keep majority

National opinion polls throughout this campaign have consistently suggested Labor has a healthy lead on a two-party preferred basis. Newspoll on Friday had the Opposition ahead 53 to 47.

However, the situation in key seats is considered to be much tighter than those surveys suggest.

Both major parties are spinning that they are favored or experiencing a last-minute surge.

“I think it will be tight everywhere,” a Coalition minister said.

“There is a path for us to win a majority but it is very tight and a hung parliament seems more likely right now.”

Anthony Albanese speaks at a lectern emblazoned with the words "A better future" and the Labor logo
Some in Labor say they are now “quietly confident” of at least being elected as the biggest party on Saturday.(ABC News: Hugh Sando)

The Liberal and National Parties cannot afford to lose any seats to retain a majority, while Labor needs to win seven and not lose any to win government.

A majority Coalition government is now considered by campaign strategists to be the least likely outcome.

Five seats are thought to be most at risk of falling to Labor or the Greens: Brisbane (Qld), Reid (NSW), Chisholm (Vic), Boothby (SA) and Swan (WA).

There are also many other electorates where the Coalition is being closely challenged by the Opposition and high-profile independents.

Those include Wentworth (NSW), Longman (Qld), Leichhardt (Qld), Goldstein (Vic), Higgins (Vic), Nicholls (Vic), Bass (Tas) and Pearce (WA).

Some in Labor say they are now “quietly confident” of at least being the biggest party by the end of Saturday night and potentially winning a small majority.

However, they expect to have to pick up one or two electorates in every state, as opposed to experiencing the benefit of a big national swing.

There is also some concern about how preferences from right-wing minor parties such as the Liberal Democrats, One Nation and the United Australia Party could flow, particularly in Queensland.

“If it all goes bad tomorrow and we’re trying to work out what happened, that’s where I’d start,” said one senior Labor frontbencher.

The Coalition is still hoping it can offset some of its losses by taking a seat or two off Labor. Its targets include Blair (Qld), Gilmore (NSW), Parramatta (NSW), Lingiari (NT) and Corangamite (Vic).

PM makes final pitch before voters head to ballot box

It has not been a campaign filled with many major policy announcements. Instead, large periods of time have been focused on “gaffes” or personal attacks.

Anthony Albanese campaigning in Perth
Anthony Albanese’s final pitch included promises of cheaper childcare, energy bills and ending “the climate wars”.(ABC News: Nick Haggarty)

As a result, neither leader is particularly well-liked and, in parts of the country, the Prime Minister is considered very unpopular.

While campaigning in Perth on Friday, Scott Morrison again shrugged off criticism and declared he could defy the polls, urging the so-called “quiet Australians”, presumably referring to undecided voters, to stick with him.

“This is not an election about me, or Mr Albanese, for that matter,” Mr Morrison said.

“It’s about you and what your aspirations are. It’s about what you’re hoping to achieve.”

“Those opportunities are there, but we cannot take them for granted.”

In his final pitch to voters, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce declared his National Party would continue to stand up for regional areas against what he claimed was the “Zeitgeist that socially belittles those who underpin the wealth of our nation”.

“What the Nationals see as providing a fair outcome for people away from the capital cities, the Labor Party sneer at as pork-barrelling,” he said.

“We stand up for jobs in mining, which the Labor Party believes [is] politically incorrect, “he said.

“The Nats have a plan, to make our nation as strong as possible as quickly as possible and we accept we may be sneered at as we achieve that.”

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The Brief: Recapping the final week of the election campaign

Polling places filled, despite COVID-19 cases

Millions of Australians have already cast their ballot or have applied for a postal vote, which should ease pressure on polling places on Saturday.

The Australian Electoral Commission had been worried about staffing shortages and long lines due to workers pulling out after contracting COVID-19.

However, as of Friday night, all planned polling stations will open on Saturday morning.

“Our 105,000 workforce across Australia has had approximately 15 per cent turnover in the past week alone, and this risk will continue tomorrow morning,” electoral commissioner Tom Rogers said.

“To those people working for us tomorrow, thank you for putting your hand up. Please, unless you wake up [COVID symptoms]come in to work to make sure your polling place can open.

“To voters, if there is a queue, remember to treat our staff with kindness. You would not have a local polling place with them.”

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